Industry organizations join forces to dispute new FDA restrictions
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Several organizations representing retailers and consumer healthcare product manufacturers want Congress to reverse a provision in the healthcare-reform act that would prohibit the use of flexible spending accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicines without a prescription.
The provision, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in March, goes into effect Jan. 1. Organizations opposing the provision include the Global Market Development Center, a trade association representing suppliers, retailers and wholesalers of general merchandise, health, beauty and wellness products, as well as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and the National Grocers Association.
“The new FDA restrictions will add additional confusion [and] expense, and eliminate a benefit many consumers have come to depend upon to cost-effectively purchase medicines they need,” GMDC president and CEO Dave McConnell said in a statement. “Consumers depend on OTC medicines as a first line of defense for their families’ healthcare needs, and retail stores are in the business of providing remedies in an accessible, consumer-friendly way.”
Iatrical to roll out Sippy Sure
NEW YORK Iatrical Innovations soon will launch a product designed to make giving medicine to toddlers easier.
Iatrical announced Monday the upcoming launch of Sippy Sure, a medication-dispensing sippy cup, originally invented by a doctor and father of two small children.
The cup keeps the medicine and drink separate, but mixes them as the child drinks, thus concealing the medicine.
Sippy Sure cups retail for $8.99.
Hard to make cents out of pending FSA overhaul
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — No matter how you slice it, the flexible spending account changes that are part of the overall Affordable Care Act aren’t doing a whole lot by way of saving healthcare dollars, at least not for patients. Indeed, about the only benefactors are those folks who have to make dollars and cents out of what might become the first casualty of the Obamacare healthcare package — those who have to explain how the administration plans to pay for this package, you know, by not raising taxes.
(THE NEWS: Coalition urges Congress to repeal pending FSA change, calls policy ‘unwarranted’. For the full story, click here)
Except these FSA changes do constitute a tax of sorts — indeed, it’s been characterized as the cough-cold tax of 2010 by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association — because Americans now will have to spend much more out-of-pocket in order to realize the same savings as they did last year.
According to the Nielsen Group’s Homescan Consumer Facts 2009 report (covering the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2009), Americans spent $8.06 per trip when purchasing cough-cold remedies (which includes treatments for allergies). If they used pre-tax dollars to pay for those medicines, they saved $1.12. Over the course of a year, the average household spends $39.42 on cough-cold and/or allergy medicines. Those who used FSAs for those purchases saved $5.50.
According to the Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 2010, the average co-pay for a doctor’s office visit is $22 for primary care and $31 for specialty physicians. Requiring a prescription for these over-the-counter medicines now will mean those suffering from a cold, for example, would have to spend $22 to save $1.12. Those suffering from such chronic conditions as allergies would have to spend $9 more to save that same $1.12.
And that just doesn’t make cents.